Thursday, April 25, 2019

Rush (Ann)

I consider every moment I spend with Best Day’s older buds precious. You never know how much time you have with the people you love, and this was especially true last week.
That was because the Philadelphia Senior Center had to close early that day.
The staff told us that every workshop had to end at 3PM on the dot, so we made sure to finish our stories ASAP. I was rapidly taking snapshots of stories for our transcriber Allison and making copies for the authors. To make sure the older buds could actually get their stories before leaving, I ducked out while they were telling their stories. At some point, I realized I had copied the same page twice and cut off some writing on a few other pages, so I decided to leave them for another day. When I came back, Ann turned to me and said “Caitlin, you missed my story.”
So we all sat with each other and shared our stories until it was time for us to go.

Ann Von Dehsen
Moving Day

December 6, 1987 dawned gray and dreary with promises of freezing rain and black ice to come. It was moving day – a basic move from a small house to a bigger house just a few miles away. My daughters were 8 and 4 at the time and went off to school as my husband and I got ready for the first of 2 settlements. He kept complaining of stomach pains so I kept feeding him pepto-bismal. He kept getting worse as settlement dragged on and on so the lawyer (who was also a friend) and I used the 2 hour gap between settlements to take him to the emergency room where it was decided that he most likely had a kidney stone but they allowed him to go to the 2nd settlement before admitting him.
So a la Weekend at Bernies, the lawyer and I dragged him into settlement, put the pen in his hand then dragged him out of settlement and back to the hospital where a judgmental nurse rolled her eyes at me as I literally dropped him off at admissions. But hey, I had things to do like meet the movers who should be done about now at the new house. However, there was no sign of a moving van as I arrived. Long story short, movers had gone to the wrong realtors office to pick up the key and just sat in the parking lot until I figured this out. It was getting dark when the van finally attempted to maneuver our narrow lane. That earlier threat of freezing rain had come true, I realized, as I watched that van misjudge the curve, take down a power line to the house, and come to a halt after hitting the shed. My brother-in-law arrived just in time to deal with the movers, so I went over to the new neighbors house where I was kindly outfitted in a coal miners hat with the headlight along with several flashlights to use as we waited for PECO to restore power. It was now clear that the movers had put their down time in the parking lot to good use by drinking.
Luckily, they were happy drunks, laughing and singing Christmas songs as they pretty much rolled in our furniture, dropped and dented our new washing machine and broke several framed prints and my grandmother’s china which I never cared for anyway. At this point, I gratefully accepted their bottle of beer and joined in a chorus of “Jingle Bell Rock.”
By now, my children had arrived with my sister-in-law. She and I quickly hung a few pictures and ordered a pizza, trying to give my daughters some semblance of calm in the chaos. Suddenly I remembered I had a hospitalized husband so I called to check on his progress. Yes, he had passed the stone and was entertaining the nurses with his funny stories. Ha ha. Luckily, they kept him overnight. My in-laws helped me find and unpack the essentials – toiletries, linens, blankets, a few dishes, and change of clothes before saying goodbye and leaving me and my two young daughters alone in this very big, every old and very creaky house in the middle of the woods with no curtains on the windows.
I realized that we probably got such a good deal on the house because it was haunted. My thoughts were thankfully interrupted by my sweet 3 year old who asked me to find her stuffed animals. So we wove our way thru the myriad of boxes in the hallway and miraculously found her treasured friends in a box on the first try. We put her new sheets on her new bunkbeds and she crawled between the sheets with her animals and quickly fell into a contented sleep. My older daughter was happily exploring her new room with the built-in bookcases and drop down desk. I reflected on the stressful events of the day someone proud that I kept myself together, unaware that the day’s biggest challenge was about to arrive in the form of my sweet 8 year old daughter who was making her way thru the hallway box maze and into my room.
“Mommy,” she said, “I don’t think there is a Santa and I want you to tell me the truth!!” I was not at all prepared for this conversation and I made a few attempts to convince her otherwise. But she was relentless and I caved saying, “OK, there is no Santa!” Then burst into tears as a result of the stressful day and my questionable mothering skills. My daughter, however, was very happy to know she was right and crawled into bed next to me where we held on to each other and fell asleep.

Don’t wait for a building to close early to spend time with your older buds. Talk to them and share their stories through 
If you're looking for a little inspiration, than you can read some of the stories I've found throughout the year. One about targets, one about guns, one about potatoes, and one about the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Or if you'd like to contribute to our 10th Anniversary celebration, then donate at
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Easter Egg (Delores and Rochelle)

The older buds have a lot of freedom in what they write about, and I always get the best stories from them as a result. The downside is that there's no guarantee an older bud will write a holiday story in time for that holiday, especially when I write my posts one week after every session. Occasionally, an older bud writes a story about a certain holiday months before it appears on the calendar. And so it was for older bud Delores, who wrote this story about Easter surprises right here, and older bud Rochelle who wrote about gaining her religion:

Delores Wilson
Easter Sunday Surprise

Our request was made by my two brothers and myself for three baby chicks for Easter.
At that period of time time, it was allowed to dye baby chicks for Easter. My mom said yes. She approached us again and asked if we preferred to dye easter eggs instead. We said we wanted to dye baby chickens. My mom said okay but we must keep the basement clean, spick and span. that was one of the most exciting experience we had – we each had our own baby chick.
Easter was early that year, it was in March instead of April. It was common knowledge that baby chicks that were dyed had a short life span. Well, I want to tell you, as the weeks turned into months, they began to lose their feathers and new feathers were growing in.
My mom and dad, both Southerners, were amazed. They didn’t think our chicks would last two weeks. Well, we had a rooster, and he woke my father up at 4:00 am every morning and two hens.
I overheard my mom on the phone saying, “I didn’t expect the chicks to last that long.” Her Easter surprise!

Rochelle Tynes
Before Christ

Before Jesus got his hands on me completely, I would give people pieces of my mind when they pissed me off by saying things that were of no concern to them in regards to me, relating to how I wore my clothes, combed my hair, walked, talked, just anything that struck their nerve or fancy. I would argue, cuss, and get very angry.
Since Jesus got his hands on me, I very seldom respond to negative remarks. However, I do respond at times, not too often and then I spend a great deal of time asking the Lord to please continue to cover me with his/the blood and forgive my dumb responses to these people. People (some) of them say things that they assume or think are true about you. My position usually is to explain why I have acted in such a manner to cause this reasoning or ignore them. But today, I responded and spent a great deal of time beating myself up for responding, thinking that I had a choice to ignore the situation or respond differently. I know what the whole scenario will soon fade from my mind but right now, it’s still fresh and I have to ask for the after BC effect to take over.
BC is before Christ, it takes over and directs you to walk differently in a more positive way – even though we can, and will go astray.

And what would make a better Easter surprise than talking to an older bud and finding a treasure trove of hidden stories. Just go on here to figure out how:
If you're looking for a little inspiration, than you can read some of the stories I've found throughout the year. One about targets, one about guns, one about potatoes, and one about the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Or if you'd like to contribute to our 10th Anniversary celebration, then donate at

And for one final Easter treat, enjoys these senior selfies courtesy of Frances and brand new older bud Philip.

Thanks for reading, and Happy Easter!
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Good Fun (Liz and Eleanor)

I’m glad to report that the older buds of Best Day lived the April Fools Day joke. On First Thursday, we went into the computer room and read the stories online. I asked José and Delores to read “their” stories, and Frances to read one of “Delores’” stories. I eagerly watched for that moment of recognition when they realized the stories had the wrong authors...along with the laughs that inevitably followed.

Liz and Eleanor tried their hand at writing their stories on the computer as well, but when they asked where to submit them, I thought it’d be fun to have them submit stories through our form on
They both liked having the power to submit stories whenever they wanted, especially because the writers of Best Day are always filled to the brim with stories.

We only have seven months left until our 10th Anniversary celebration, and we want to make it as big and vibrant as possible. If you want to contribute, then go to
Or if you want to submit a story yourself, then start a conversation with an older bud and send it to
Want to see how quickly it works? Liz and Eleanor just submitted their stories last Thursday, and here they are!

Liz Abrams 
No T.V. 
Okay, so the lights went out and so did the tv. No surge, 2 great widescreen, out of operation. Why, the T.V. [has] been my companion & only friend since I lost my closest family members in 2015. But [it’s] more than that, since my favorite past-time is movies, mostly sci-fi. I thought, get it repaired ASAP. The repair person said its cheaper to purchase, rather than repair. That is the way of technology today, sooooo, a challenge. Can I really do without a TV in my life? Well, I soon found out. There is a smart phone. I worked to death and discovered [that] everything is on the smart phone. [I was a] late bloomer [to] the world of the G button, Youtube, text, e-mail, Hulu, Netflix, [and] Internet. Music, the oldies (I mean oldies, 1955 and all) are all there, [plus] talk, pix, voice recorder, [and] videocam. What a treat and now I am no longer hostage to the cable company and utility company. I discovered my radio, my piano, and mostly talking to people face to face. No longer hostage to sitting around viewing the large screen, but walking everywhere —dancing, concerts, museums, drawing, trips in town and out of town. Boy, oh boy did GOD do me a favor. The one day the lights went out!!!!!!!!

By Eleanor Kazdan,

When I was a child I vaguely heard about the computer. It was a mammoth machine that took up a whole room, and the only time I actually saw one was in the movies. It seemed like science fiction. In 1967, my last year of high school, I was given the opportunity to learn how to use one of these huge machines. We learned how to write a program in Fortran, submitted it to the teacher, and from my recollection, the information was coded on various colors of punch cards. It was all very mysterious. Unfortunately, I always seemed to make some small error in my program, and never had success. When I started university the next year the only contact I had with computers was notes that my physicist boyfriend wrote to me on pink computer punch cards.I didn’t think about computers again for many years. In about 1987, just after I had gone back to graduate school, my husband decided to buy our first computer. It was quite expensive, and although not as big as the original mammoths, took up a whole corner of a spare bedroom. I learned how to use the word processing program. This seemed like a miracle to me. I could type my essays without worrying about making mistakes, as they could be corrected without a problem. No more cutting and pasting for the finished product.Everything seemed like science fiction. Soon we could email people and they would immediately receive our message.In the ’90’s the huge computer became a smaller desktop, and the prices of computers came down to a fraction of their former cost. Next came very portable computers like the iPod, then the iPad and the smartphones. The developments were dizzying, changing like the speed of lightening. Then came total dependency on the computer as well as crimes and hacking into computer data. At times I long for a simpler, non-computerized life. But they are definitely here to stay. I now have an Apple watch, and can receive emails and text messages without even taking out my phone or tablet.

Hope you enjoyed the stories. And I hope these inspired you to send in some of your own.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, April 4, 2019

No Foolin' (José, Eugene, Joan, and Delores)

Last Monday was April Fools Day, a celebration of pranks, jokes, and major corporations advertising products you wish you could really buy. Last week, Best Day got into the April Fools Day spirit by switching around the names and dates on our stories. Below is an amended list of who wrote what:

For Mother Dear
Eugene Carrington 

Norman Cain  
Professor Gates and Me – Something in Common

Delores Wilson  
Infamous Tomboy  

Frances H. Bryce  

To make up for this incredibly mild form of deception, I give you stories that were actually written by José, Eugene, Joan, and Delores:

José Dominguez 
Memories of My Lawyer Experience in Mexico 
I guess to be a lawyer in Mexico is not so complicated as in the USA. Perhaps, that’s the reason I ended [up] practicing law. Well, my wife believed it was a risk not only to my clients, but to me as well, so when I went out too work, she prayed to all saints, the holy sprit, to God, to every holy power to protect me of all danger, mostly of my naiveness.I will tell you some experiences I lived so you will have an idea of what I am talking about. Blanca was a young lady close to my wife’s family. She came to our house to explain to me how she was suffering from her husband’s physical and psychological violence. Several nights, I had to hear the sad story and had to assure the lady that I would obtain the divorce from the court. I guess she was so grateful with my services that she insisted visiting my house night after night until late, after dramatic [tearful] sessions. But one day, she appeared at my door and told me, “Mr. Dominguez, I came to pick up all of my papers.” I answered her request saying, “But Blanca, the case is not over." “Mr., it is over, I decided that my husband is the love of my life and I live in peace with him.” “What? And What about all that you told me?” And she answered, “Forget it, its a matter of the past and that’s it.” Zero fees, zero earnings because a troubled couple decided to be happy.Another case was a criminal case working for the defense. My client was [accused] of fraud and robbery. I did a lot of work proving how my client was a good guy, a truthful husband ad a cool champ. The judge declared my client innocent. So I went to collect my legal fees. “What fees Mr.?” he asked. “The ones related to your case.” "But if you read the sentence, I was always an innocent guy, so if I am innocent, I don’t have to pay." Oh my God, I learned to make deals with crooks. Oh now can I skip. Don’t call it story. He was a very poor peasant and one friend of his drove his car against him (to harm him for sure) but in the moment of the stroke Don Calixto to tow bed so he only was injured in one leg so he was suffering terrible pains. Don’t want to write so much but I will end by saying that I took Don Calixto to the doctor and paid for the medicines. I added to my admirer’s club another member but my wife told me, “You are a nice guy, don’t discuss it, but tell me, how are we going to pay our bills?” 

Eugene Charrington 
That Wistful Guy   
An obese man leaned against an antique Cadillac’s façade on Walnut Street by Broad. His gray hairline was thinning out of his forehead, his potbelly sagged down past his brass belt buckle. His brown loafers appeared to be spit-shinned and sparkled in the setting Philadelphia sun. His wrinkled olive-hued face had a look that said – a recent ugly agreement with his girlfriend, a business deal gone bad, or life’s problems just seemed to be taking over and all this caused him to gaze out sadly onto Broad Street as he slowly puffed on his prolific cigars, a cigar whose odor one could detect twenty or more feet away. 
And you know, when I examine my life, I don’t have it so bad compared to many others.   

Joan Bunting
How has getting older made you feel? Do you ever wish that you were younger or [there was] a special age you could return to?I don’t. To me, getting older is, of course, a brand new type of life experience.First, as I entered into my sixties, I started going through different physical problems. For a while, I would get a break from having appointments to my doctor. I would be feeling just fine when all of a sudden, a pain would hit me from nowhere. Once I finally got used to that, whenever I would get a pain where I’ve never had one before. I would just laugh and to myself I would say out loud, “Where did that come from?”But you know what? I’m blessed that God has brought this far in this life. I’ve experienced lots of ups and downs but, He has kept me and is still keeping me.First it was [that] females had a problem telling their age and now there are some males that seem to want to keep their age a secret. Why? Be grateful that God has allowed you to live as long as you have.First of all, no matter how young you might want people to think you are, the fact of the matter is that you won’t get any younger than what you are. People know that you’re not young anymore, so be proud of your age and thank the Almighty God for keeping you and giving you chance after chance to develop a close relationship with Him. 

Delores Wilson  
Five years had passed and now is time to have my total ID renewed. I was told by the receptionist that I would need $30.50 check or money order and they open at 8:30 however people are waiting in line before that time. I really appreciated the heads up. 
This time I was prepared to do some reading. The young lady that was standing ahead of me was very cheerful. She and I began to engage in conversation and her attitude picked me up. It was very engaging to me to be engaged with a person of her youth. When it was my turn to get my information in check, another pleasant surprise. The gentleman that waited on me had a great sense of humor. Next, I was sent to the end of the process to actually have my picture taken. He asked about my scarf and I told him I wore it in the previous ID. He had me remove my picture from the holder and I could see for myself it wasn’t on. Then I remembered it was for my passport. I was told if I were to keep it on, I would have to wear it at all times.   
He was very gracious. I never read the book I had to keep me preoccupied. There was a better book, the book of people. We human beings are part from God and we are expert at finding faults. I am challenged to see the good. I heard my voice say “kudos customer service.” I heard his eyes say thank you.  

And we don’t fool around when it comes to ending senior isolation. Share your love for the older buds in your life by submitting their stories here:   
And if you need a refresher on how to submit stories to “Joy Starts Here,” check out this handy-dandy link:
And don’t forget to check out the stories from our Philadelphia-based sister group Center in the Park. They’ve got lots of amazing stories, so check them out.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri